How to deal with stress in job and live joyfully?

Hello everyone,

I need your help regarding my personal life. I joined a company as an intern around three months ago. I am having a very painful experience here. Work pressure is really too much, and my manager is also a little rude and egostic, so I am very stressed and anxious most of the time. I am having a hairfall problem because of that. I am tired of late-night meetings and daily standups. This is really too much for me to endure. I have never been in such a situation. I just finished college, so I honestly cry sometimes, remembering all those good years. Although I didn’t have many friends and I always lived at home before joining this company. I read lots of books and poems in my college. I love writing too. I once participated in a Columbia University online writing contest and got lots of appreciation and praise. I have saved all those emails, which motivates me a little in these hard times. I don’t get any time for writing now. My manager asks me to fix bugs on weekends too, so they are also pretty much occupied. Everything that I loved doing earlier is not possible now. It’s just been 3 months, and I am really scared about my future now. Is software engineering like that? Will I not get time for the things I love more than coding? I am having a hard time and don’t know how to cope with this. Please don’t suggest me to leave this job, as I can’t do it for some personal reason, but I am trying to switch. But I don’t think switching companies will solve my problem, as many experienced engineers told me on LinkedIn that working 12 hours a day is normal. I can do that, but right now I also have to learn new things after the office work for interviews, so it makes everything super hard. I like coding, but things are very stressful after joining the company.

Please share your experience, advice, or anything you like. I know I should not be complaining about my job here, but I need some consolation and encouragement. I do wish things get better soon. Also, if someone wants to read my writing, please let me know.

Thank you.

You have every right to complain. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people out there who think you aren’t a “real” programmer unless you are willing to sacrifice everything else in your life for writing code. Granted, there are other professions that still suffer from this attitude as well, but programming seems to be especially vulnerable to it. No, 12 hour days should not be the norm (unless you are only working three days a week). No, working weekends should not be a routine part of your job, everyone deserves a few days off from work each week.

It sounds like the company you are working for might still be holding on to this toxic attitude. Also, since you are new, they might be taking advantage of you since they assume you don’t want to lose this job and thus will put up with their overbearing demands.

I’m not sure how much helpful advice anyone here can really give you since we aren’t in your shoes and thus can’t consider all of the factors in your life that would help you make a good decision. Personally, I would not accept the attitude that working 12 hour days and weekends is the norm. There are plenty of places where it is not. Most people who try to convince you to believe that are either victims of this toxicity themselves or are benefiting from you accepting that (i.e. they are making money off of exploiting you unfairly).

Also, if your mental health starts to suffer, your job performance certainly will as well. So all of this sacrificing you are being asked to make for the company may be for nothing if they let you go because your performance suffers. You mentioned that you are trying to find a new job. I would probably double my efforts on that.

Good luck.

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Hi @bbsmooth ,

Thanks for your response. I am also trying to double my efforts in interview preparation. Hopefully, things will get better soon. Do you have any other advice for me?

It can be hard to do, and not always an option to everyone, but I liberally use the phrases “my workday ends at 5” and “I don’t work on weekends”.

In some jobs, especially in tech, if you don’t firmly guard your time, companies will continue to take time they aren’t paying for.

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If I ever say this, I will be shown the exit door immediately.

Well, that’s a problem.

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I can say that I have worked many 10-12 hour days before when a deadline is coming up, and things just aren’t where they need to be across the board. This being my first dev job I just went with it as a way to make myself stand out, and show dedication. Luckily for me as I was asked not to do that, and that if the team was getting behind on the project then we need a better plan going forward on the next sprint.

I guess a serious question about this is: Are they paying you for all 12 hours?

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No. They are just paying minimum wage as I am just an intern. But there are not many opportunities out there, so I have no other option but to work here.

No software engineering isn’t like that. It sounds like you’re being exploited because you’re inexperienced or unwilling/unable to push back.

You have to stand up for yourself eventually though in any industry so drawing boundaries is recommended.

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But what can I do? I am helpless here.

You said here its impossible for you do any other option.

If its impossible, we can’t help you do the impossible.

Neither I am asking this. Please read my question title again.

If you must work in a crappy, stressful, exploitative environment, you will get stressed out and not very joyful. I’m not aware of a magic bullet to fix that, unfortunately.

HI @harshit-jain !

First off, I am sorry that your first tech experience is a bad one.
Here are my thoughts in your situation.

The thing about the tech industry is that there are a variety of experiences out there.
There are some companies, like yours, that are very toxic, and there are some that are very healthy and have plenty of growth and mentorship opportunities.

So the question is, how will you know a company is toxic or not?

Well there are several things you can do.

You can lookin to the employees that work at a company and see how that conduct themselves online.
You can also look at a company’s open source projects and see how employees conduct themselves on issues and pull requests.

There have been companies in the past that I was interested in but saw how they conducted themselves online and was completely turned off.
There have been companies that I have sought after because of how their employees conducted themselves in public.

The other way you can tell what a company is like is through the actual interview process.

At the end of the interview, companies will always ask “Do you have any questions for us?”
That’s your opportunity to get insights into what they are really like.

Some questions you might ask are
“What does the work culture look like here?”
“Is it typical for employees to work weekends or late nights?”
“What is the average tenure for employees at this company?”

Pay close attention to their answers.

Here is a good to look at for more types of questions you can ask at the end of an interview.

And remember, this isn’t an interrogation but rather you wanting to know what it would be like to be apart of that team and culture.
https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/good-questions-to-ask-at-the-end-of-an-interview

This depends on what kind of company you work for.

There are some companies that are very blunt and transparent about having their employees put in long days and work weekends to the point where you don’t have much time for anything else.

Then there are other companies that have healthy work life balance.

At my last company, it was a consultancy and they were very clear that we should only be working 40 hours a week.

I understand your reasons for not being able to leave right now.
But you will need to develop a game plan to make that eventual switch.

What areas of the job hunt process need work?
Does your resume need work?
Do you perform poorly in technical interviews? If so, what areas do you struggle in?

Coming up with a game plan to slowly gain the skills to go through the job hunt is your best chance to make the switch when the time comes and be in a better situation.

Also, it sounds like this company just wants you around to fix bugs when needed and that your manager is not invested in the growth of your career.
While you might not be able to leave now, you don’t want to stick around to long because that would hurt you more technically then help you.

There are developers out there that have 4-5 years of experience on paper but they never grew out of the junior phase and it hurts them in the long run because they aren’t qualified for those mid - senior roles.

As the others have mentioned this is not true everywhere.
There are some companies that do operate like this while there are others that don’t.

Hopefully all of that helps

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Hi @jwilkins.oboe ,

Thank you so much for this great response. It is very insightful. Thanks a lot.

Yes, I don’t have great projects in my resume. But it’s getting hard to work on personal projects along with this job.

Yes, I too feel that way. I want to switch as soon as possible.

Okay, I will do that.

Thank you again for this wonderful response. I will work on all these things.

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You’re welcome, and I’m glad you found the response helpful! Dealing with job-related stress can be tough, but it’s great that you’re willing to work on a game plan.

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Hi @Dirtymortaines , I am trying to adapt to these situations. Hopefully, things will get better soon.

Yes, it’s definitely stressful. But don’t you think that the current generation is too touchy?

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Totally agree with the “work-life balance tightrope” analogy. It’s easy to get stuck on the grindstone and forget to breathe. For me, the key to juggling work stress and enjoying life is finding healthy ways to unwind. Lately, I’ve been getting into [mention a relaxing hobby you enjoy]. It helps me de-clutter my mind and recharge.

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Yes, I agree with you. How do you cope with this?